Resistance in Amsterdam

Girl in the Blue Coat, by Monica Hesse, translated by Natalia Payne, (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), 320 pages, release date 5 April, 2016

Don’t let the fact that Girl in the Blue Coat is published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers fool you. Yes, young adults would enjoy this title, but it makes deeply satisfying reading for adults as well—and it’s worth making a trip into a different section of the bookstore.

The central character, Hanneke, has been surviving the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam and providing sole support for her parents by dealing in black market goods. She works days as a receptionist in a funeral home whose owner is good at finding the increasingly rare things that wealthy Amsterdamers are willing to pay for. Hanneke serves as his delivery person.

Hanneke has no interest beyond keeping herself and her family safe. She certainly doesn’t want to take unnecessary risks. However, Hanneke’s work in the black market brings her in contact with a group of young people working for the resistance… and the novel’s action proceeds from that point.

Monica Hesse has done valuable research into a little known part of the history of resistance in Amsterdam, and The Girl in the Blue Coat brings this history to vivid life.

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